O, Canada

I spent this past week in Toronto with my husband and family. We’ve all been social distancing pretty hard core since the beginning of the pandemic and we were all feeling a need for a break. So when his sister suggested this trip, we hopped on it. Traveling was nerve wracking, especially with the strict testing requirements. We needed a negative PCR covid test within 72 hours of flight departure and there’s no testing center in Houston (or seemingly the entire state of Texas) that guarantees results within less than 3 days. The plane ride out was so turbulent that it kicked off a nasty spell of vertigo for me. But we made it and, other than me tossing my cookies in the middle of our first night there due to said vertigo, the trip was amazing.

Outdoor lounge
Queen Street
Graffiti in an alley
Rooftop views at night

It’s the most I’ve been out in the world since 2019 and it was great. We did an escape room, visited Niagara Falls and several other attractions on a tour guided bus, had a maple syrup tasting(my favorite was amber syrup from Quebec!), walked around Chinatown, ate out around town and visited Casa Loma (a mansion built to look like a castle that has been used as a set in dozens of movies). I ended every day exhausted and a little sore from all the walking, but my mind was at ease. My television viewing consisted solely of reruns of The Office, Seinfeld, and Batman: The Animated Series. And the brief glimpses of evening news I caught were wonderfully devoid of mass shootings and police brutality. Even the political ads were downright civilized. We stayed in an AirBnB that was this really nice condo with a small grocery store on the corner where we got all our incidentals. I tried Tim Horton’s and although the food wasn’t anything to write home about, the coffee was great! It was really a slice of life and both G and I left thinking we could definitely live there. If the Cheeto tyrant runs in 2024 then Toronto is officially our backup plan. Even with Biden at the wheel, America is descending into hell on a greased pole.

You know what I didn’t see? People walking around maskless. I mean, even on the street in the open air, 8 out of every 10 people was wearing a mask. Properly, not that dumbass thing where they use it as a chinstrap or pull it under their noses and defeat the whole purpose. People calmly presented their vaccination cards and filled out contact tracing info before being seated at a restaurant, and didn’t pull their masks down until drinks or food were brought to the table. And when we went to the pharmacy to get our covid tests before leaving, the locals there were getting tested just to see their grandparents or immunocompromised friends. IT WAS AMAZING. I haven’t felt that free of low level dread since the before times. The virus isn’t going away anytime fast but we could have had some semblance of normalcy back by now, if only Americans cared about their neighbors as much as their freedom to be ignorant.

The cherry on top of all of this is that in Canada, you can get a free PCR test with guaranteed results in 24 hours. If you aren’t a citizen and therefore outside of the national health plan, it only runs you $40 CA, which is about $32 USD. So I’m guessing they could do that here, except labs would want to make a profit and charge you $150 but then that would be de facto discrimination against poor people so the solution is to give everyone equally shitty health care. Sounds about red, white and blue.

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